Thursday, August 6, 2020

Review of "Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball’s Longest Game," by Dan Barry

Review of

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball’s Longest Game, by Dan Barry ISBN 9780062014481

Five out of five stars

 The longest professional baseball game ever played started on April 18, 1981 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and the first 32 innings were played over eight hours, literally from dusk to dawn. When sanity finally took hold and the game was halted, people were rising and preparing for their Easter Sunday events. When the game was resumed, it only took one inning to end it. It was a game that featured two future Hall-of-Fame greats, the ironman Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs. Ironically, they both played third base in the game.

 In many ways, the continuation of the game was due to glitches and oversights. While there was a curfew in the area, the official rules did not allow for stoppage and the one person that could order the game halted, the president of the league, could not be reached until the 32nd inning. The night turned bitterly cold, making all baseball movement difficult, the great Ted Williams always argued that it was difficult to hit in cold weather.

 Some of the players nearly compacted a season’s worth of futility in the game. Oner player went zero for thirteen and another was zero for eleven. The Rochester team managed 18 hits in 105 at bats for an average of 0.171 and the Pawtucket players were 21 for 114 for a batting average of 0.184. There were some amusing moments when people simply could not believe that the game was still going in the very early morning.

 Although the game is historically interesting, what makes this book is the very engaging prose of Barry. He demonstrates that he is a writer of the first caliber, delving deep into the backgrounds of the players, managers and executives of the teams. He also describes how the stadium was built on what was very unstable marshland. Even if you know little about baseball, you will find this book one of the most entertaining available. Great writing can always make what some would find a dull subject interesting.  

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